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Shows on HBO and Showtime have become known for explicit portrayals of sex and nudity, but Showtime’s new show Masters of Sex takes a new look a human sexuality through the eyes of researchers who took it upon themselves to understand it. The show stars Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, who both spoke about the show at the Television Critics Association Press tour on Tuesday.
Masters of Sex focuses on the relationship between fertility expert William Masters (Sheen) and his partner Virginia Johnson (Caplan), along with the research that made them household names in the 1970s. Ironically, Johnson was not a scientist, having failed at becoming a country singer. She just happened to have an ability to get people to talk about their private lives, a talent Masters used in his research.
“Virginia Johnson looked like every other woman around her,” Caplan said, reports the LA Times. “It's the choices she's made, what's inside her, that's different.”
Author Thomas Maier was also on hand. His 2009 book of the same title is what the show is based on. He said that the real Johnson didn’t want to see her life publicized towards the end of her life and didn’t want to meet Caplan. “She just didn't want to do it. … It was, 'I don't want to be in the limelight.’”
Johnson died just last week at age 88. Masters died in 2001. The couple had divorced.
Producer Michelle Ashford said that some facts were embellished, but they tried to stick as close to reality as possible, notes The AP.
The show does feature plenty of nudity and sex. “I never thought I would get used to having a naked woman in front of me masturbating ... but I actually broke that barrier on the show,” Sheen commented.
Masters of Sex premieres on Sept. 29.